Kiwi youth mobilise to give consumers choice about palm oil
The ‘Unmask [palm oil]’ campaign began by complete accident. A group of students from Pakuranga College looking to make their school pantry palm oil free became a national campaign for the sake of seven letters.
The audit of the pantry hit a rock when we realised that because palm oil labelling is not mandatory in New Zealand, audits like ours become difficult. The myriad of other ambiguous and generic titles like vegetable oil and vegetable fats to the downright confusing Sodium Laureth Sulfate meant nearly every company had to be called individually. This took 6 people 2 hours on the phone and we decided this wasn’t right. So as a group of inexperienced students we began a campaign called ‘Unmask [palm oil] Demand Labelling’ with a simple mission of: ‘palm oil to be labelled on all products that contain it, within a time frame that is fair on companies yet reflects the urgency of the issue.’
We all know palm oil is the ingredient causing deforestation, human rights abuses, carbon emissions and the near extinction of species like the Orangutan. But this campaign is just as much about consumer choice as it is about palm oil. There is a significant group of people who don’t want to consume palm oil, our campaign simply exists to give them the 2 words they need to make it happen. No matter how passionate or oblivious you are about the palm oil industry, palm oil labelling will empower the thousands of passionate palm oil boycotters and leave those that don’t care alone.
Since it’s accidental creation the campaign has gone national, utilising the untapped lobbying potential of schools student councils through the networks that we already have available to us. By getting students involved with the petition, presentations, audits and the Facebook page they learn how to speak out against things that they see are wrong in the world, something that no NCEA curriculum could ever teach.
Last week we launched a campaign where people send made up medical certificates to our newest Minister in charge, Simon Bridges based on Kate Wilkinson telling us that because nobody is allergic to palm oil, there is no reason to label it. The medical certificates prove that the holder is allergic to palm oil for the reasons of deforestation, human rights abuses, death of wildlife and carbon emissions. In a few months time we are launching a campaign where people send their biscuit packets, chip packets or shampoo bottles into Simon Bridges telling him that they are allergic to palm oil and need to know if it contains it. We hope to flood his office with these messages until he accepts the overwhelming support for palm oil labelling.
We would love it if you would like to help us, send us an email.
We really believe in this cause and with your help, Simon Bridges will too.
‘Unmask [palm oil]’ national co-ordinator